Coach caravan stops in Wheeling | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Kim North

Several West Virginia University coaches attended the annual BMAC WVU Coaches Caravan Friday evening as it made a stop at Oglebay Park. From left: Chad Scott, offensive football coordinator; tight ends coach Blaine Stewart; head wrestling coach Tim Flynn; Mark Kellogg, head women’s basketball coach, with the microphone; and head men’s basketball coach Drian DeVries.

WHEELING – What a difference a year makes. Just ask West Virginia University athletic director Wren Baker.

This time last year when the WVU coaches caravan from the BMAC arrived in Ohio County, Baker was only a few weeks into his new position with the Mountaineers and had just hired Mark Kellogg as their new women’s basketball coach. Then it happened.

It was Bob Huggins’ slip of the tongue on a Cincinnati radio show that ignited a firestorm that ultimately led to his firing as head men’s basketball coach.

Baker was one of several WVU dignitaries who attended the caravan’s annual stop — the fifth of the spring tour and the last in the Mountain State — Friday evening inside packed Glessner Auditorium from Oglebay Park.

“It’s important for us to travel to different areas of the state for events like this,” Baker said. “Especially because there are no other Power 5 schools in the state and there is no professional team in the state. “We just want to get out and connect with people and give them a chance to meet and talk with some of our coaches. »

The tour began Monday in Manassas, Virginia, then headed to Glade Springs, West Virginia, on Tuesday. Martinsburg on Wednesday and Parkersburg on Thursday led the Mountaineers to Wheeling. The tour concludes next Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina

“We have a lot of great alumni in the Charlotte area. The Mayo Bowl allowed us to discover how many there are there. It’s important for us to try to add them to our fan base.

When Huggins was fired several months later following a drunk driving arrest, he had assembled a very good recruiting class, but many left via the transfer portal when he was let go.

Baker knew he had to act quickly. He hired Josh Eilert, a Huggins assistant who was on the bench only one year of an 18-year career, as interim coach. When that didn’t work due to several factors, Baker went looking and found Drake’s Darian DeVries.

“It’s been great. People have been very welcoming, both to me and to my family,” DeVries said Friday evening. “I’ve been busy dealing with it on the recruiting trail.

“The situation I found myself in wasn’t ideal, but it was what it was,” he noted. “We kind of took over. We’re happy with the guys we currently have on the roster and we’re working hard to complete the build.

And it should be busy since only one Mountaineer — Ofri Naveh, a 6-6 sophomore forward — returns from last season.

“The transfer portal has been an important recruiting tool,” DeVries added. “It’s kind of a quick fix. You don’t need to do a rebuild that might take a year or two. You can get healthy quickly.

DeVries said he expects nothing but good Big 12 basketball.

“I grew up in Iowa around the Big 8, Big 12 and Big 10, so I have a great understanding of the league and what it is. I think it’s the deepest league in the country and when you look at next year’s preseason rankings you see five teams (Big 12) in the top 10. It’s a great basketball league and that’s a big part of why I wanted to be there. in West Virginia and compete for Big 12 titles.”

Kellogg’s hiring proved successful as he led the Lady Mountaineers to a superb season in his first in Morgantown. They won 25 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament when they fell to Caitlyn Clark and Iowa.

In addition to Baker and DeVries, other WVU coaches making appearances were Chad Scott (offensive coordinator) and Blaine Stewart (tight ends) representing the football program; head wrestling coach Tim Flynn; and Kellogg.

Baker received a check for $12,000 from BMAC President John S. Marshall. Proceeds will be used for the BMAC Scholarship which is awarded each year to a WVU student-athlete from the Ohio Valley.

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